rare it is for a group of rabbis, all going to israel together, would be important and unprecedented for northern california. so i started pushing for it it came to fruition in january. >> we should say also this would not have happened without you working with the israel council general, based in san francisco but for northern california. this was coordinated by the israel council general, board of rabbis and yourself. >> we have a lot of work to do. a lot of details to deal with, as time went on, and the wonderful thing ability the trip we reached out to the -- about the trip we reached out to the whole community we had a great mix of rabbis who joined
us and participated in mostly everything we did. >> i think what is interesting is it probably i think most people thing rabbis go to israel all the time if you are a rabbi of a congregation you put a group together and go. you might go with a young adult group, barber mitt have a family group but what was unusual about this, we rabbis as a group don't necessarily travel together to a place that means so much to us, that inspired us in some cases maybe even to go and be a rabbi and serve the congregation of israel at large. what for you was so significant about the fact that all of us, were travelling together, day in and day out. >> understand eric, when rabbis go in groups, that they are not necessarily leading it is usually a denominational trip, so a conservative rabbis
convention or some sort of an educational trip might take place but that is denomination hall. this is across the denominations. here in northern california it is rare for rabbis across the denominations to get along together as well as we do in this region. talking to colleagues around the country it is almost unthinkable for the most traditional rabbis to even want to be seen with the least traditional. on this trip we had three orthodox rabbis, we had four or five, six conservative rabbis, half a dozen renewal rabbis, reconstructionist rabbis the rest were reform it was an interesting mix of people who not only knew each other but liked each other and working
together. it was more colleagueial than most would expect. >> it bodes well for the future they have indicated that they want to develop relationships with each other. we are talking about getting to the on a regular basis a few times a year to study. they made a commitment to do that. they have learned that what denomination a particular rabbi is part of is not nearly as important as who the rabbi is. it is a wonderful break through for that. and bringing together rabbis on a colleagueial basis in all of northern california. >> we will return in just a moment and continue this wonderful conversation. please join us back here in just a moment ,,,,,,
welcome back to mosaic. i am rabbi eric wise we are joined in a conversation about a unique trip of northern california rabbis a few weeks ago we are joined by the executive director of northern board of rabbis and rabbi bennett of temple israel, alameda. so we were talking about diversity and how important that was of rabbis coming together to go to israel and the impact that we hope it had on israel itself. >> so part of the motivation for me for trying to put the trip together was dispointment based on awareness of how relations are between the ultra
orthodox lab nit and rest of israeli society. there has been lots of coverage unfortunately about violence, verbal and otherwise from the ultra orthodox against nonorthodox rabbis and other jews in israel. i thought it was important for every day israelis to see there are other possibilities it is in fact possible for rabbis from the far right to the far left to travel together, study together, pray together, eat together, without recrimination and dehumanization. some body suggested we should have called our trip eat pray love. it really -- for me, it only emphasized how wonderful the relationships are we have here and how impar at no time it is -- important it is for other people to see forcing ultra orthodoxy on a population that
doesn't want it is not the way to go. there is a better way. >> here in the bay area, one of the spin offs of this trip or side-effects of this trip is that we show the communities not only in israel could we get along but we get along here. we may not always agree with each other there are probably issues we felt uncomfortable, pushed to our limits with political or socio-economic issues in israel, but we can be friends we can connect together, we can stand with israel together in ways that i think a lot of people in the community -- in our community, didn't realize were necessarily possible. >> mm-hmm. so alan, when you two were putting together the itinerary for all of us, to participate in, what -- what were some places you wanted us to go to both push and support the
variety of perspectives that was going to be among us on the trip? >> my original idea was not well developed. it wasn't until last january or february and akivah started suggesting people to see and places to go. because he works for the foreign ministry we were able to have appointments with people from the foreign ministry, from the supreme court, that i don't know that i would have been able to range. but we heard from individuals, from those three institutions as well as others that really gave us points of view, that were divergent, but from people who were working together, extremely well. extremely efficiently, i think probably it is safe to say all of us, left our comfort zones each time we went into a session. not all of us at the same time
but each of us at different times. yet we heard all kinds of things that we don't hear, here in the states we heard from some body from labor s we heard from supreme court justice very involved in the women of the wall decision the only christian arab on the supreme court and it was a delightful interchange and exchange, the kind we wouldn't hear here. so when we went into alanshoot there were rabbis like myself reluctant to go where the settler movement is so strong. i decided it is important for me to hear stuff there, not hear about stuff from there. so despite my initial reluctance i had a great time studying talmud there. one of the rabbis that taught
us was from my hometown. >> akron. >> akron ohio. who knew. >> one thing i noticed about myself from the trip and the aftermath was a different appreciation for the use of language so that even now i have come back and talked about our itinerary to say we went to judiah or samaria as opposed to we went to the settlements, the use of language was something i gained tremendous appreciation for and pushed me into a different kind of boundary on my own comfort zone what language do i use and where does that reflect where i am on a particular issue or where is my own grey area not knowing where i stand i found that piece of it very interesting because i think one of the political overlays is a notion
of who is on the left and who is on the right. that category, those even started to break down for me because what you can call someone left or right in israel, is not really an equivalent to what we think of in american political life is left and right. where does someone stand on the issue of peace negotiation. where does someone stand on the issue of where israel's boundaries should be drawn what is considered viable, legally protected religious observance for example women who can go or not go to a part of the western wall or not. so i found -- i have been finding myself words are breaking down and moving more into concept, and explanations of situations rather than the simplicity of a sound byte and i am not sure where i myself land there. >> i am not sure where i myself
land either but i do know i have learned not to look at things in a black and white basis. when we look at israel from here we think of this group and that group we don't necessarily thing of how they interact and how they fit together. we think they are totally opposed to each other. in some ways some times they are. but i look at much more greying of the situation, and i think when we come back here, it helps us look at our community in the same way because we have people on the right and left s we have the extremes who are some times the only people we listen to, rather than understanding that most of the people we deal with, are much more in the middle much more trying to decide -- trying to grapple with language and the work that you are talking about that you are doing for yourself. >> we are going to return to
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for more information about the board of rabbis, northern california please call ... or go to the web at ... welcome back to mosaic i am rabbi eric wise joined by rabbi good man and rabbi bennett talking about our historical trip of a group of northern california rabbis to israel. we were talking about how the trip actually impacted us and really challenged us in terms
of how we talk about topics, of religious observance about political situations, even what is happening in the peace process and i am wondering what we all think about what you think about that, impact, on our community as we go back into the community as rabbis. >> our hope is that this group of rabbis maintains its contact there are lots of other rabbis in the bay area and northern california as well. as we maintain contact we will be able to display to the community, the kinds of lessons we learned about diversity and getting along. we studied together in different kinds of environment, some which each of us were more comfortable in than others, but we came away appreciating each other for who we are, and appreciating each other for our opinions we learned to listen
and hear each other in different kinds of ways than we perhaps were able to before. hopefully with the community, year of civil discourse going on, hopefully these rabbis will be able to if not lead, be able to show by their examples. >> how do we -- you know the year of civil discourse is cosponsored by the jewish committee council, with support from the board of federation and the goldman fund and i don't know the other funders to give them due credit but i know that in that context we are working with a number of different synagogue communities that really are in strife, over how they engage israel, in conversation in their community. and i am wondering how is it that we can provide rabbinic leadership to specifically
shoes areas because i know in some synagogues there is tremendous pain if someone doesn't agree with one person on where they stand with where women can pray at the west earn wall or any other topic to do with israel. suddenly people disinvite other friends to their table or they don't get a wedding invitation or bar, barmitzvah invitation suddenly that rift goes deep i am wondering how we can impact that in a way that says you know what, relationships are what is important not i would say an appropriate way to treat one another. >> eric if you think about the scope of jewish history, we have so many good role models in our literature of how people can disagree agreeably.
>> yes. >> all of the talmud has endless discussions of approaches how to apply the law and no matter what happens even dissenting opinion is listed in the text rabbis refer to each other throughout respectfully, with due reverence for the station or each other, we are not living then we are living now and i don't know how many years it has been or how long it has taken but the heart break for me is see that jews who came from that tradition of mutual respect have become so assimilated in societies where it is my way or the highway we have lost sight of that sense of inherent, innate mutual respect the idea of having a year of civil discourse sounds wonderful to me and focused on our ability to talk about
israel which is so important to us civilly what i am afraid of and i have been joking with marv about it. when the year is over are we off the hook? we don't have to be civil any more? >> it is as if not to be trite or coy about it but we have to relearn how to disagree jewishly. >> we relearn how to disagree, and still be accepting of each other. how to not like what someone says, but doesn't mean we don't like the person. >> yes. >> and i think you know, we rabbis on this trip, not that we didn't like each other we really like each other might not have enjoyed what some body else said that we had to either respond to or take in and just live with it, but i think if the article that came out to talk about all us going to
israel together is an example, maybe we can be leaders in showing how to do that. on a global basis and in our own communities the year of civil discourse is working with a number of different synagogue and other manties to help people learn how to -- other communities to help people learn how to lis season hear and not necessarily feel they have -- listen and hear and not necessarily feel they have to respond. some body says something we feel we have to respond. in the jewish community it might be easier to deal with but it is society in which we live. >> we will return to mosaic in just a moment
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california rabbis took to israel a few weeks ago. one thing that might be important to say the support from this trip came from many many different i wanted vid julys and organizations that were very interested in the -- individuals and organizations that were very interested in the rabbis coming together. we were grateful for the support the community provided and hope that support will continue this is i think i would say for myself such a significant transition, on a communal level it needs to be sustained and nourished. >> we have talked for a couple years now of having trips of rabbis to israel this was the first time we were able to make it happen as you said the communities for individual donora variety of other people and federations helped make this trip possible and affordable for the rabbis to be
able to take the time and go to israel. >> i think it is an investment in how we create a sense of civility, not just this year but beyond. >> that is what the council general was trying to encourage. getting the rabbis together in israel, was the opening for our working better together once we got back here. as a group of rabbis, in support of the israel we all love. it was not an accident that that is the way it played out. >> it wouldn't have happened without akivah and the way he lead us and helped plan the the trip. >> you know we have believe it or not just a minute left but alan you have a very poignant story i think encapsulates on a personal level this trip. >> as we were leaving the west bank settlement one of our colleagues said if i make aliah this is where i want to live.
i will understand if you don't want to come and visit me here. i said to him if this is where you are, this is where i will come. our friendship is far more important than any considerations. it is about our relationship and how much we have come to appreciate each other not political stances. >> what a wonderful way to end our conversation. i hope we have had a formative insight about the rabbinic trip to israel. thank you for being here with us on mosaic ,,,,,,,,,,,,
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